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How Wholesale Catalogs Can Drive Online B2B Sales

Now more than ever there's pressure on manufacturers and wholesale distributors to make eCommerce a priority. 

After all, your buyers aren't only getting used to making B2B orders online, they're also doing their everyday shopping on their phones. 

Which is why having good eCommerce options -  that not only allow your customers to place orders whenever they like, but also allows you to build a direct line of communication to buyers - is becoming a key differentiator in the industry.

Still, the fact remains that most B2B businesses haven't gotten quite that far yet, which is why today we'll be looking at how some business are transforming their wholesale catalogs to supercharge B2B sales and make life easier for  reps. 

 #1 Why B2B still use catalogs

#2 How to simplify selling with online catalogs

#3  How online catalogs supercharge B2B sales

#4  How online catalogs increase reach across devices

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 #1 Why B2B Still Use Catalog

The product catalog has been a mainstay of the B2B industry for decades and with good reason. They're comprehensive. They're organized. Plus, people process images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information that's sent to our brain is visual.


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Which is why catalogs are still more effective as a marketing tool than a repetitive grid of products you see scrolling through a webshop.

But for most industrial companies, after you've printed and shipped out your catalogs, either directly to customers or to your sales reps, the story ends. The catalog is put on a shelf somewhere or it's uploaded to the website as a PDF.

#2 How TO Simplify Selling With Online Catalogs 

There are a few unique challenges that manufacturers and wholesalers face with online catalogs that most retailers don't have to deal with. 

The first is that you usually have a large product range. Your catalogs might have thousands of pages featuring countless tools or machinery tailored to different industries, each with a specific function, responding to different gear. 


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When creating their online catalogs, wholesaler Würth categorized their product range by type then organized it under a single menu called a digital binder, shown above. 


wurth mobiles


Because Würth use our platform, the catalogs are responsive across all devices, meaning buyers can browse the catalogs on their phones in their own time if they so choose. 


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Additionally, online catalogs are instantly searchable. Meaning sales reps can find whatever they need quickly, regardless of whether they have the physical catalog on hand. All they have to do is use the search field to type in the name or type of product they're looking for. Saving them from having to flip through pages or lug heavy catalogs around to sales meetings. 


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Your reps could even go so far as to create "mini" online catalogs ahead of sales meetings, by picking the most relevant product pages for a specific buyer and presenting that instead of a printed catalog. 

Secondly, online catalogs can be changed whenever. Meaning prices and product inventory can be updated instantly, without added printing costs. Allowing you to respond to changes in the market, adjusting prices based on supply and demand and in general just offering a better service to clients. 

#3 How Online Catalogs Supercharge B2B Sales

 When PDFs are uploaded to a website they stop working for you. Yes, buyers can scroll through them, but they don't enable any action and they don't direct buyers to any kind of eCommerce portal.

Buyers can buy directly from online catalogs on the other hand. Sales reps? They can send links to specific catalog pages or direct potential buyers to certain products by using online catalog links too. 

Just as a starting point, that's an obvious way that online catalogs supercharge sales, simply by making them possible in the first place. 




And if for whatever reason, you'd prefer buyers not buy directly from your catalogs, but place email orders instead, you can also set your online catalog up to direct orders to a specific sales reps' email address. 

The key difference with online catalogs though compared to printed ones, is that you shorten the buying cycle because people can act in the moment, and the ability to order without necessarily calling you directly removes friction from the buying process too.

Meaning inbound sales essentially take care of themselves, freeing your sales reps up to pursue more outbound leads.

Then there's the analytics. With a print catalog, you ship it out and then you just hope the customer reads it. But with an online catalog you can monitor page views, analyze which products readers hovered over most, which offers were most popular and adapt your future catalogs to respond to demand.

#4 How Online Catalogs Increase Reach Across Devices 

A recent study showed that as of last year, half of the world's population spent 5 or more hours on their mobile devices each day.

Let that sink in a minute. 


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Five or more hours, each day. It's no wonder, that the result of that is changed buying behavior.

Add to that, last year's gross merchandise volume of B2B eCommerce transactions which totalled 7 trillion U.S. dollars. 

Which is yet another reason why so many B2B businesses are either starting their digital transformation, or prioritizing the complete optimization of their existing shop portal.

But for many leading B2B businesses, online catalogs represent a shortcut to updating their eCommerce solutions without committing the time and resources to an in-house build. 

Why? It's responsive across devices and will both look good and be easy to use whether the buyer is on their phone, iPad or computer. 

Because as opposed to building an eCommerce solution in-house, the initial infrastructure needed to create an eCommerce solution with your online catalogs can be built in 10 days. Not 10 months. And after those 10 days? All your catalogs become shoppable at the click of a button. 


One of B2B's greatest strengths is that it's a no nonsense industry. No frills, nothing fancy, manufacturers live by providing the best products at the best prices. 

But with global mobile commerce revenue projected to reach $669 billion dollars this year, it's no longer a question of whether B2B businesses can afford to start a digital transformation, but whether they can afford to wait any longer.

And given how practical these organizations are, the answer is pretty predictable. 

Related reads

From Basics to Bottom Line: The Complete Guide to Online Catalogs

How To Get Started With B2B eCommerce Using Online Product Catalogs


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About the author

Nanna Árnadóttir

Nanna Árnadóttir

Nanna is a storytelling wizard with over ten years experience working as a journalist and copywriter. Wielding magic with her words, her goal is to educate and delight you with fresh blogs and sage wisdom.

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